Notebook: World Cup boasts strong field, after years of losing top players

matt kuchar
Getty Images
Matt Kuchar will partner with Gary Woodland to give the United States one of its most highly regarded world Cup duos in years.
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 | 7:28 p.m.

The Presidents Cup could feature about 18 of the top 50 players in the world ranking on Nov. 17-20 in Melbourne.

The World Cup is the following week in China, and it could have just as many.

An event that seemed to be losing top players -- particularly from America -- is attracting one of its strongest fields. Six of the two-man teams have both players currently in the top 50 in the world, while Northern Ireland (Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell) and South Africa (Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen) have two major champions.

The United States offers its strongest team in nearly 10 years by sending Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland. The defending champion from 2009 is Italy with Francesco and Edoardo Molinari, while England again puts up a strong tandem of Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.

Then there’s Denmark, with Anders Hansen and Thomas Bjorn both inside the top 30.

Five players from Australia passed on the opportunity to play until Richard Green accepted a spot. Then again, the World Cup is the same week as the Australian PGA Championship, and comes right in the heart of the Australasian Tour schedule.

PRESIDENTS CUP: Brandt Snedeker has made the biggest jump without winning in the FedExCup playoffs, going from No. 18 to No. 5 with a tie for third at The Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship. He also has made a swift climb in the U.S. standings for the Presidents Cup, and now is only the equivalent of $28,016 behind David Toms at No. 10.

There was some movement in Boston, but not enough to clarify everything. The top 10 players earn spots on the U.S. team before Fred Couples doles out his captain’s pick (one already goes to Tiger Woods).

Jim Furyk finished sixth, moving him up to No. 9 -- but he is only $15,809 ahead of Toms, and $43,825 ahead of Snedeker (each dollar counts two points in the standings). Toms is $28,016 ahead of Snedeker -- that’s how much 44th place earns at the BMW Championship, which is the last qualifying event.

Charles Howell III at No. 23 is as low as anyone on the list with a mathematical chance of qualifying.

Rickie Fowler might have hurt his chances the most. He started the final round only three shots out of the lead, but closed with a 77 and tied for 52nd, leaving behind big points. He now is $700,287 behind the 10th spot and would have to finish alone in second or win at the BMW Championship to assure playing his way onto the team.

DIVOTS: Starting in 2014, the British Open will move away from holding final local qualifying at links courses near where the Open is held that year. Instead, the four qualifiers will be held at four courses each year in three parts of England (Hillside, Woburn and Royal Cinque Ports) and Scotland (Glasgow-Gailes). The R&A said the change is to make it more convenient for players to qualify. … Patrick Cantlay has won the Mark H McCormack Medal as the No. 1 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking at the end of the amateur summer season. He secured that spot with his runner-up finish in the U.S. Amateur. Cantlay had been No. 1 for the previous 13 weeks. Cantlay will receive his award this week at the Walker Cup in Scotland. … The LPGA Tour has launched an official Korean version of its website that will feature live scoring, player information and enhanced blogs with special Korean content. The LPGA already has a website geared toward the Japanese audience.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Ten players on the PGA Tour already have earned more than $2 million this year without winning a tournament.

FINAL WORD: “The season is so condensed that it’s a weird feeling. It’s early September and it feels like October.” -- Brandt Jobe, competing in his first FedExCup playoffs.